I believe the vast majority of exercisers prefer the benefits of a healthy exercise program to the potential risks from working out to hard and to often.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people with high levels of physical fitness are at a lower risk of dying from a variety of causes. Feeling younger, living longer and living well are real benefits of a regular well balanced exercise program. This is what motivates many people to workout moderately most days of the week. The women and men I talk to about their fitness goals simply want to be well and stay well. This is reasonable enough motivation to engage in regular exercise. Research also shows that exercise enhances sleep, prevents weight gain, and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and even depression. Who wouldn’t want these benefits?
But, what about the people taking their workout regimen to extremes? We all know “them”, the “die-hard” exercisers. The “maniacs” that not only workout seven days a week but who workout two, three, even four and five hours a day. Once upon a time, I too, fell victim to this kind of workout insanity. I was exhausted, achey, stiff, and often injured from my numerous daily workouts instead of feeling strong and energized. Fortunately, it didn’t take to long for me to recognize the importance of taking my workout regimen down a notch. I learned to cross train and approach my workouts with moderate intensity, instead of high intensity every workout, everyday. Preserving my energy and feeling good just made sense. Understand, this revelation of mine did not happen over night. It took time, soul searching and self-acceptance. Unless you are a pro, semi-pro athlete or training for a specific fitness event you may be overtraining and headed for trouble.
Workouts got you down?: Reasons Not To Overtrain!
Number one: If you are miserable and struggling to get through your workouts that were once done with ease, BACK OFF! This doesn’t mean you have to quit. Modify some of the exercises and pace yourself. For example, choose walking instead of running. The constant impact and pounding on your joints may not have a healthy payoff, plie instead of doing a jumping jack and keep your knees bent while doing a boat pose. These simple changes will make you a winner. Not a loser.
Number Two: Are you in constant pain following your workouts? A little bit of muscle soreness is ok, even good. If you can’t walk the stairs or sit on the toilet for a week, this is not good! Please ease up on yourself. Maybe less sets or less reps. Vary your exercises. And, don’t “work through” real pain! You will only suffer more and longer.
Number Three: Trouble eating or sleeping? High intensity exercise particularly within two hours of bedtime can cause restlessness in some women. Consider a gentle or slow flow yoga class followed by 10 minutes of meditation in the evening for a healthy change. A good night sleep is vital to your health and well-being. Over exercising can cause unhealthy appetite loss and for some women overeating and bingeing. Neither is wise and may eventually take a toll on your mental and physical health.
Number Four: Many women experience changes in menstruation, even cessation of their period from prolonged overtraining. This can cause many serious health problems.
Number Five: Getting Sick. Feeling rundown. I am all to familiar with this scenario. Working out until you have nothing left can weaken your immune system, especially if you are not eating or sleeping well. Making you susceptible to colds, flu and a host of other illnesses. Remember, one of the goals of exercise is to create a strong and healthy body. One that is fit for her future!
Number Six: Unhealthy Weight loss. Many women are convinced that constant hard driven exercise is the key to weight loss. This attitude and obsessive behavior can lead to all kinds of health problems including injuries and potentially dangerous eating disorders. These unhealthy exercise behaviors are often seen in women in their twenties and thirties but are definitely not limited to younger women. Eating disorders and exercise anorexia are on the rise in mid-life women. We will discuss this disturbing issue in the near future.
Number Seven: Overuse Injury. Ask any orthopedic doctor and they will tell you that visits from patients with overuse injuries help keep them in business. If you are suffering from chronic back pain because you run 6-10 miles 5-6 days a week or an injured shoulder or knee from 5 days a week of hard core kickboxing, give it a rest. Consider cross training! Substitute swimming, water exercise, biking, yoga or some form of flexibility training as a way to give your body time to heal properly. This will strengthen other ares of your body otherwise neglected by a one dimensional exercise program. A well balanced workout regimen may be just what the doctor order!
Take the time to re-evaluate your workout practices and goals! Unless you are under strict orders from a doctor to stop a particular activity, giving up your favorite workout is not always necessary. Rather, learning to make modifications and creating a balanced weekly workout schedule may be your answer to renewed vitality and energy. Summertime is a perfect opportunity to explore new modes of exercise – giving your body a break from the same old workout routine. Try taking a hike at your local park and while you’re there check out the ropes course, if there is one. Â Canoeing, kayaking, rowing and swimming are a few of my favorite outdoor summertime activities. Here’s another idea: Join a softball team or a take up tennis with a few girlfriends for the summer. One more suggestion: Buy a weighted hula hoop and a jumprope- twirl, jump and spin around for 30 minutes! Just have some active fun! Making peace with your body by treating it kindly and lovingly has tremendous health benefits. Try it and see for yourself!
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or support. Enjoy your healthy workout!